« PreviousContinue »
ON THE BENEFITS WHICH WOULD FLOW TO THE WORLD,
WERE COVETOUSNESS UNDERMINED, AND AN OPPOSITE PRINCIPLE PREVAILING IN CHRISTIAN SOCIETY.
WERE the covetous principle completely undermined, and, consequently, were wealth applied to its legitimate objects, according to the intention of the Creator, every thing requisite to promote the physical comfort, and the moral, and intellectual enjoyment of man in this world, and his preparation for a future state of happiness, might, at no distant period, be speedily effected. Even the physical aspect of the globe, might be renovated, and its barren deserts transformed into a scene of fertility and beauty, so that “the wilderness and the solitary place," might be made “ to rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Although the inordidinate love of money is “the root of all evil,” yet the proper distribution of it, on the foundation of Christian principles, may be pronounced to be the source of all good.
We have already shown, that the almost universal prevalence of covetousness, has been the cause of most of the wars and devastations which have convulsed the world, and the source of most of the evils and sufferings under which the human race have groaned in every age." And it might likewise be demonstrated, that the proper application of wealth would go far to undermine, and ultimately to destroy all such evils, and to diffuse among all ranks, a degree of happiness and comfort, which has never yet been enjoyed in any period, since man first violated the law of his Creator.
It is scarcely conceivable, at first view, what innumerable benefits of every description, might be conferred on our fellow men, and on the world at large, by an application, on liberal and Christian principles, of the riches which we at this moment possess. And, we may rest assured, that while we refuse to apply our treasures to the objects to which I allude, we do every thing in our power to frustrate the designs of our Creator in bestowing upon us such treasures, and to counteract the benevolent operations of his moral government.
A work of immense magnitude, however, requires to be accomplished, and vast exertions are indispensably requisite, before physical and moral evil can be undermined, and the way prepared for the universal improvement of mankind, and the spiritual regeneration of the world. But man has moral and intellectual powers and treasures of wealth, fully adequate to the enterprise, arduous and extensive as it is; and, under the agency of the Divine Spirit, who is promised to work in us both “to will and to perform the good pleasure of God,” he is able to accomplish every thing to which we allude, provided he is WILLING to consecrate his energies and his treasures to this work of faith and labor of love.
But, let us now attend more particularly to some departments of the work to be accomplished, and to the means to bring it into effect.
1. Were covetousness undermined, and an opposite principle acted upon, abundant provision would be made for the external comfort of the poor and destitute.
The God of nature has displayed his exuberant goodness towards our world in every age, in “ giving rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons," and in supplying the inhabitants of every clime with what is requisite for their subsistence and comfort, though the earth has yielded the harvests of six thousand years, it has never yet lost its fertility, but pours forth its fruits, every autumn, in rich abundance; and could afford sus
tenance for hundreds of millions more than have ever at any one time, traversed its surface, since the days of Noah. Yet we find thousands and ten thousands pining in poverty and want; not only in bleak and bar. ren deserts, but in the most fertile countries, and in the midst of plenty and splendor; and, in some instances, absolutely perishing for lack of the necessaries of life, while pride and opulence are rioting within their view in luxurious abundance.
At this very moment, in Ireland, and especially in the county of Limerick, the poor are literally dying of want, by hundreds. “The present state* of the poor in Ireland,” says a member of Parliament, “is terrible not only to behold, but even to contemplate. In this neglected country, the poor are thrown on the industrious classes for relief in their wretchedness, as the rich not only guard their mansions by high walls, and surly porters, but actually drive the poor creatures away with dogs. In America, clearing the estates, means cutting down the timber, but here it means, cutting down human life. The poor, when driven from their homes, have no asylum to fly to, but to leave their country, or lie down and die."
Mr. Ingles, in his “ Journey throughout Ireland, in 1834,” gives the following description of the wretchedness he witnessed, in the same district, to which we now allude.
“ Some of the abodes I visited, were garrets, some were cellars, some were hovels on the ground floor, situated in narrow yards or alleys. I will not speak of the filth of the places; that could not be exceeded in places meant to be its receptacles. Let the worst be imagined, and it will not be beyond the truth. In at least, three fourths of the hovels which I entered, there was no furniture of any description, save an iron pot, no table, no chair, no bench,' no bed-stead--two, three, or four, little bundles of straw with perhaps, one or two scanty, or ragged mats were rolled
in the corners, unless when these beds were found occupied.
* November, 1835.
The inmates, were, some of them old, crooked, and diseased, some younger, but emaciated, and surrounded by starving children, some were sitting on the damp ground, some standing, and some were unable to rise from their little straw heaps. In scarcely one hovel, could I find even a potatoe. In one which I entered, I noticed a small opening leading into an inner room. I lighted a piece of paper at the embers of a turf which lay in the chimney, and looked in. It was a cellar wholly dark, and about twelve feet square, two bundles of straw lay in two corners; on one sat a bed-ridden woman; on another lay two naked children—literally naked, with a torn rag of some kind thrown over. them both. But I saw worse than even this. In a cellar which I entered, and which was almost quite dark, and slippery with damp, I found a man sitting on a little saw dust. He was naked; he had not even a shirt; a filthy and ragged mat was around him. This man was a living skeleton ; the bones all but protruded through the skin; he was literally starving.
In place of visiting forty hovels of this description, I might have visited hundreds. In place of seeing, as I did, hundreds of men, women and children, in the last stage of destitution, I might have seen thousands. I entered the alleys and visited the hovels, and climbed the stairs at a venture; and I have no reason to believe that the forty which I visited, were the abodes of greater wretchedness than the hundreds which I passed by. I saw also another kind of destitution. The individuals I have yet spoken of were aged, infirm or diseased; but there was another class fast approaching infirmity and disease, but yet able and willing to earn their subsistence. I found many hand-loom weavers, who worked from five in the morning till eight at night, and received from a task-master, from half a crown to four shillings a week. Many of these men had wives and families; and I need scarcely say, that confinement, labor, scanty subsistence, and despair, were fast reducing these men to the condition of the others, upon whom disease and utter destitution had already laid their hands. The subsistence of these